Sunday, 15 April 2012

Siberian village devastated by wildfire inferno

Twenty out of 35 houses were consumed by flames in the Russian village of Bayan-Bulak on Thursday night.
The steppe fire roared into the village, located 200 km from Chita, at 9 pm local time on Thursday due to strong winds. The fire took more than 12 hours to extinguish.
All 60 residents were evacuated to the neighboring village Tsokto-Khangil, where they were placed in a school and a cultural center. One woman broke her leg during the evacuation.
An investigation was opened on the accidental destruction of property.
Zabaikalsky region authorities promised to start reconstruction in May.
“It is necessary to sort out the issue of housing construction with everyone personally and start building no later than May. It is also necessary to tally the damage and process all the documents. We plan to open a charity account, organize a collection of clothes and money. We will build the houses. We will not leave anyone in strife,” said the spokesperson for Zabaikalsky Governor Ravil Geniatulin.
He promised Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that people would be able to move into their new houses by the start of heating season in autumn.
The governor visited the devastated village on Friday and held a special meeting with the local council.
Those whose houses burned down will be allocated money for immediate needs and provided with assistance in restoring their documents.
There is a storm warning in the region, and the steppe fire could strike other villages. More than 100 people and 26 fire-fighting units are battling the flames. Thousands of hectares of forest are on fire in Siberia in 34 locations.
Russian forest authorities will also send 200 fire-fighting paratroopers from the Moscow region, Karelia and Krasnoyarsk region.
The region is in the state of emergency because of dry weather with high winds and numerous fires. Grass burning is thought to be the cause of many fires. The authorities banned it, but locals still use it to remove old grass on hayfields and pastures.
Russia is plagued by wildfires every year. In 2010, burning peat bogs near Moscow covered the city in thick smoke, forcing many residents to flee the city.

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